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Senior Program Associate, Global Policy & Advocacy - Program Influence

The Rockefeller Foundation is seeking a fixed-term (18 month) Senior Program Associate (SPA) to join the Foundation’s Global Policy and Advocacy team. This person will support the Power team and contribute to the development and execution of a multi-year initiative to bring electricity to households and businesses without access. The goal of the Foundation’s power initiative is to accelerate energy access and promote economic development for hundreds of millions of people. We plan to achieve this goal by supporting integrated electrification approaches, particularly the concept of the “grid of the future.” Current approaches to electrification are too slow and inefficient; over 600 million Africans don’t have access to electricity and that number rises when considering people who have access to unreliable electricity.

Utilities in emerging markets are losing money, aggravated by trying to serve rural customers without sufficient understanding of those markets. An alternative approach or “Utility 2.0 grid of the future” focuses on creating partnerships between public (grid-based) utilities and private mini-grid companies to cover more people, with better quality electricity at a cheaper cost. The grid of the future also focuses on stimulating demand in relatively under-developed communities, as essential for a sustainable roll out of electrification facilities. Not only does demand stimulation improve the business models of electricity providers; it is directly related to tackling poverty and stimulating economic development.

To promote these new partnerships the Foundation is focusing on three key areas of work – financing, data, and demand stimulation. We have launched initiatives in India and Myanmar and have a portfolio of work across the African continent.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

In this role you will be principally responsible for helping to create and execute a powerful communications and influence strategy that can amplify the goals of the Power initiative. This will include supporting effective media interactions, creating an up-to-date set of visually compelling knowledge and communications products, positioning the Foundation team and partners at the right external events, and helping to curate a set of our own events in order to maximize their success in terms of influencing stakeholders and building new partnerships.

Underpinning all of this will be your role in helping to shape the right strategy and make the best choices. The energy access sector is replete with new reports, workshops, and conferences – yet their influence over decision-makers and leaders in this space (e.g. investors, governments, utilities and off-grid companies) is not always easy to discern. At the heart of this role is to work with our team and other experts across the Foundation to determine what we can do to most effectively influence key decision makers, and then help do it.

The role will have at least one signature project; managing and shaping the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty. The Foundation is partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to launch this commission, with dual objectives, (1) to highlight the vital link between energy access, poverty and development in the 21st century and (2) to advance a new global approach to integrated electrification in which a combination of grid and off-grid strategies are deployed in a coordinated manner, underpinned by a more comprehensive approach to energy demand stimulation. Through this commission we hope to fundamentally alter the approach of government, investors, utilities and off-grid players and dramatically accelerate energy access for hundreds of millions of people globally. Commissioners will be prominent leaders drawn from utilities, development banks, private investors, and government. This will be a highly visible project for the Foundation in 2019, and a pillar of any influence strategy for the Power team.

Duties include but are not limited to:

  • Develop a coherent strategy and plan (and M&E system) for the Power Team to deploy a range of communications and influence approaches in order to amplify the influence and impact of our work.
  • Partner with MIT and other potential grantees to deliver a successful Global Commission to End Energy Poverty.
  • Coordinate with the team and key grantees to support an effective series of convenings at our Bellagio center on key topics, culminating in an all-campus week in December 2019 at which we will launch our new strategy, and build partnerships for the future.
  • Work with the Foundation’s Power team, Global Policy and Advocacy Team (GPA) and grantees to create and/or curate a regular stream of communications resources that can be utilized for influence – including data visualization products, digital assets, media releases, op-eds, knowledge products etc.
  • Coordinate with the Global Policy and Advocacy Team to profile the work of the Foundation and its grantees with the media, for example at the time of major program announcements or during participation at high profile events.
  • Support key Foundation staff (e.g. Power team lead, President) to maximize their presence at select industry events (e.g. coordination, preparing briefings, media engagement, speeches etc.).
  • Support the Power team lead and Senior AD Strategy with preparation of a strategy presentation to the Foundation board in late 2019.
  • Create and manage an effective project management system to ensure that key events, activities, events, milestones and deliverables for priority projects are being proactively tracked managed, ensuring a hands-on approach to problem-solving in order to deliver timely and effective results.
  • Work collaboratively with key internal stakeholders (especially GPA team) and core grantees (e.g. MIT), ensuring positive cooperation and relations are maintained at all times.

Education, Experience and Skills

  • Bachelor’s degree required (Master’s preferred), preferably in a relevant field of study such as communication, journalism, public affairs, energy policy, development policy etc.
  • 5 years of professional experience in a related capacity (e.g. communication for social change, influence campaigns, international development policy, and energy policy).
  • Outstanding technical skills in visual communications, writing (e.g. media releases, policy briefs etc.) and editing,  with an ability to develop and / or oversee the development of high quality materials for a diverse range of potential audiences.
  • Strong inter-personal and teamwork qualities, with excellent listening skills, assertiveness in presenting ideas to others, and an ability to work effectively with others .
  • Proven project management skills, with an ability to work independently, under pressure, and coordinating effectively across multiple stakeholders and projects in order to get things done.
  • Demonstrated passion for the mission of the Foundation, reflected in your professional history.

The role is a fixed term 18 month position.

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